J-drama Review : Ikemen Desu Ne

A couple of months ago I posted an entry about how Japan was doing a remake of the K-drama “You’re Beautiful”, but I didn’t get around to watching it until a few days ago. Since I had some free time, I figured I’d make a review as well. I’ve got to warn you though, I was a HUGE fan of the Korean version, so if you’re not up to seeing comparisons between the two, then you might want to stop reading now.

Being a fan of You’re Beautiful, I was a bit hesitant to watch the show at first because I was worried it will only disappoint me. After all, it’s not the first time it happened.  But I decided that the best thing to do was just to watch the show with an open mind and try not to compare it to the original too much.

Quick summary:

The story begins when a top idol group, A.N.Jell, decided that it needed another vocalist and chose Sakuraba Mio. Unfortunately, right before his debut, Mio got in a fight which resulted to a broken nose. In order to keep to schedule, the band’s manager decided to get Mio’s twin sister, Miko, to take his place for three months while he heals. She is told that she must live with the other 3 band members to establish a strong bond between the group, and that her true identity must be kept secret at all times.

General thoughts:

I loved how this version managed to stay true to the original while incorporating its own flavor into it.  I’ve been reading some reviews on Dramacrazy and some people thought that the producers shouldn’t have followed the original version too closely and changed it up a bit more, but what’s the point of doing a remake if you’re going to change all the details right?  If they wanted something original then they should have just gone with a completely different concept.

Anyway, the main plot remained the same (of course, it is a remake after all) which impressed me because they had to condense 16 episodes of YAB into 11.  The show changed the way certain events happened in the story, but everything still played out nicely. I was fairly impressed by how they did it actually. For example, in episode 2, the show combined three important events into one huge one – Ren’s allergy attack at the restaurant, followed by the hunt for the missing ring in the pond, followed by the fan’s acceptance of Mio after she “rescued” Ren from almost drowning.

I also thought it was great the way they incorporated certain small details of the original version into this new one. The clothes that A.N.Jell wore in this version were something that could easily have been from the original. They’re not the exact same ones of course, but they could be from the same collection. Even Miko’s nun uniform and the pig rabbit plushie was the same. And I absolutely loved that they kept some of the original sound track as well. I really didn’t expect it at all. When A.N.Jell started singing “Promise” (in Japanese of course) in the first episode, I just got chills and made me want to keep watching the show to see what other songs they kept.

Mio with her pig rabbit

Ikemen Desu Ne didn’t stray too far from the original version but it did make a couple of minor changes in the story to make it fit the Japanese culture a bit more.  An example would be the way they changed the reason for Mio’s disappearance. In the K-drama it was to undergo corrective surgery, in this version it was because he needed time to heal his broken nose – probably because plastic surgery isn’t as big in Japan as it is in Korea.  And the producers also had to come up with a reason why the ANJell members had to stay in the same house since that’s more of a Korean concept I think. If I’m not mistaken, Japanese idols are allowed to return to their own houses at the end of the day while Korean idols are required to stay in a dorm with their band mates.

One thing I didn’t like was the whole orphanage idea in the first part of the show. I didn’t mind the fact that the producers decided to add an extra event in the show, but I just felt that it was unnecessary and a bit boring.  If they were going to add something, I wish they chose to have something more fun and exciting.  But I suppose it was how they decided to show that Mio was hardworking and trustworthy.  Other than that, I’m pretty happy with all the other changes they made.

As for the cast, I was pretty satisfied with who the producers chose and I’m sure many JE fangirls were as well. I do admit that I would have been happier if they had chosen older actors to play ANJell since I’m more familiar with them. I would probably choose Ikuta Toma for Ren, Hiroki Uchi for Shu and maybe Tegoshi for Yuki.  I think it’s because I’ve been following the actors they chose for this drama for a few years now, so I’ll always see them as kids. But I suppose I have to realize that they’ve grown up and are definitely capable actors.

This is how I still see Hikaru in my head 😀  Soooo cute!

I won’t go into detail about all the characters in the story, but I should at least write about the ANJell members:

Takimoto Miori (Sakuraba Mio/Miko)

I thought she was pretty good. Her acting was real and she didn’t try so hard to be cute like some girls in Asian dramas. Her character wasn’t portrayed as stupid compared to the Korean version, which some people liked. Personally, I loved Go Mi Nam’s silly antics, so I kinda missed that.

This was the first time I’ve her act in a drama. I thought she looked like a combination of Erika Toda and Ha Ji Won. I love both girls so that’s a definite plus for her in my book.

Tamamori Yuta (Katsuragi Ren)

When I first started watching the show, I didn’t think anyone other than Jang Geun Suk could pull off the irritated expressions his character makes, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Tamamori Yuta did them pretty well. I am a JE fan (which was another reason why I was excited to watch this show) but for some reason I couldn’t remember him from Kis-My-Ft2.  It was probably why I wasn’t too thrilled about him at first, but he definitely grew on me after a while.  My sister really likes him, and after watching IDN, I understand why. Looks-wise, he isn’t really my type, but by the end of episode 1 I thought he was sorta cute. (By the end of episode 2 I found him extremely droolworthy XD).

Fujigaya Taisuke (Fujishiro Shu)

Unlike Tamamori Yuta, Fujigaya was one of the members of Kis-My-Ft2 that I actually remember, mostly from the KAT-TUN and NEWS concert DVDs. He just really stood out for me. I’ve never seen him act before, but I thought he did an pretty good job on this show. He played the kind and loving member of ANJell who always looked out for Mio. I liked him most of the time but there were a few moments when I felt that he was too intense, like those time when he was glaring at Ren.  (Actually, I’m not sure if you could call it “glaring”, it was more of a “you got a problem dude?” sort of look. Fujigaya’s face looks too kind for me to consider those looks as actual glares.)

I do wish they gave Shu a little bit more character in the show though. I did like him, but most of the time I found that he had a very weak aura about him. He didn’t seem like someone who would fight his friend over a girl (even if he did tell Ren that). And in those moments when he did try to steal Mio’s heart, I didn’t really feel that he was doing a good job at it. I remember in YAB, whenever Shin Woo would comfort Go Mi Nam and try to win her over, I would think that she was being stupid for rejecting him since he was depicted as a total sweetheart that would make the perfect boyfriend. I loved seeing him and Hwang Tae Kyung go up against each other for Go Mi Nam’s affection.  I just felt like Fujigaya could have done a lot better if he was given more dynamic scenes.

Yaotome Hikaru (Hongo Yuki)

Hikaru had always been one of my favorites among the younger JE boys. I remember him as far back as his Ya Ya Yah days. I wasn’t a major fan of the band, but I always found Hikaru adorable. He’s like the younger brother I wished I had, which makes him perfect for the role of Yuki I think. He plays the youngest of the original ANJell members. He’s fun, spontaneous and generally a happy go lucky guy. I think he did pretty well. I loved his reactions when Nana’s stylist would chase after him XD

For most part of the show, Yuki was conflicted about his feelings for Mio who he thought was a guy.  Eventually he comes to terms with it and decides to accept that he might possibly be falling for a dude.  Maybe it was because the Japanese version was a little fast paced, but I sometimes felt that Yuki accepted Mio too quickly.  In YAB, Jeremy took a while before he warmed up to Go Mi Nam. I remember that he spent the first few episodes not liking Go Mi Nam at all because he was jealous of the attention he was getting from the other ANJell members.  In the Japanese version, they made Yuki more accepting and understanding.

I was pretty happy with the other characters of too.  I don’t really have much to say except that I liked the actors/actresses that the producers chose.

  • I liked the girl they picked to play Nana (Kojima Haruna), I thought she was adorable. Yeah, she was really annoying at times, but that was mostly part of her character. I wish she had more “stupid” moments though, like in the Korean version.  (I guess the stupid girl image is just not big in Japan as it is in Korea.)
  • I also really liked the band’s manager, Mabuchi (played by Shingo Yanagisawa) – he was hilarious. His facial expressions were great 😀
  • The lady who played Ren’s mother was alright I suppose (Manda Hisako).  Tae Kyung’s mother was extremely beautiful in the Korean version while Ren’s mother looked a bit old in Ikemen Desu Ne. But her acting was good, especially in the last episode.
  • I really liked Mio’s aunt in this version too (played by Imori Miyuki). I didn’t find her annoying like the aunt in the original version. She wasn’t much of a gold digger either, which I liked. And she was actually concerned about Mio. She stood up to Ren’s mother after she claimed that Mio’s dad was her lover and even helped Mio find out more about her mom in the last episode.
  • I found it hilarious that the president of ANJell’s company kept making a parody of Johnny Kitagawa. They never mentioned it, but it was pretty obvious, especially the way he kept saying “You!”. I suppose it’s only fitting, after all they had three JE boys playing the part of ANJell members.
My favorite moments:

Most of my favorite parts in the show were actually the same as the ones in the Korean version. I understand that they were forced to cut out a lot of scenes since they had to reduce 16 episodes to 11, but because of this, many of my favorite moments from YAB were removed (or shortened). Like the birth of the pig rabbit, the car scene where Go Mi Nam and Tae Kyung were talking about their favorite food, grocery shopping with ANJell, all the “hyungnim” moments, how Yoo Hee Yi and the real Go Mi Nam ended up together, etc. But this show did have a lot of other scenes that weren’t in the original which I also liked. I made a short list of some of my favorites:

  • Yuki punching Mio’s boobs accidentally in episode 1
  • The red ball dropping on Ren’s head during ANJell’s party at their house
  • Mio looking for Ren in the forest (after he got chased by a pig) and finding this huge human shaped hole where he fell, lol
  • Ren forcing Mio to make the pig face while waving the pig and rabbit plushies at her. I loved that he ended up having to but them because the shopkeeper thought he wanted them
  • The cicada incident in Mio’s bedroom
  • Yuki asking Mio about her type of guys
  • That short moment when Shu was confiding in Ren that he likes someone and will tell her eventually. Ren was drinking water and ended up choking a little XD
  • Ren getting mad after his kiss with Mio because of the pig nose.
  • Ren’s fits of jealousy after reading the newspaper article about Shu and Miko dating. I loved how he kept quoting bits of the article back at Mio using a whiny voice and batting his eyelashes
  • The reporter’s reaction at Nana fake fainting when they cornered her. “We’re not bears!”
  • And my most favorite moment of all: Jang Geun Suk’s cameo in episode 8! Kyaaaaaaaah~ I think all fans of YAB was looking forward to this moment. I loved how Mio became starstruck when she saw him, and how ANJell kept getting jealous of JGS, to the point that the photographer had to tell them that their expressions were too scary during the photoshoot, LOL. And of course I loved the part when JGS hugged Mio and whispered that he knows about her being a girl and that he’ll keep her secret. (That wink he gave her made me squeal~)  JGS’s words of wisdom for Ren was also pretty sweet (“If you don’t hold on to an angel tightly, she’ll fly away.”)
♥♥♥ Jang Geun Suk ♥♥♥
  • Oh, and I also liked seeing the concert hall in the last episode because it reminded me of the NEWS concerts I used to watch on DVD XD
One thing I realized as I watched IDN was that Japanese humor seems a lot more subdued compared to Korean humor. It’s been a while since I’ve watched a J-drama so I didn’t notice until recently. (I think the last J-drama I watched was Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge, which was almost 2 years ago.) From what I see, Korean comedies usually borders on the slapstick side, relying mostly on facial expressions and body gags, while Japanese comedies are more on the serious side, if that makes sense. The funny moments aren’t as “in your face” in J-dramas, they usually creep up on you silently to breaks the tension in some of the more serious moments.  The two types of humor are very different, but I do appreciate them both.
A major event I liked more in this version compared to the original was definitely the ending. I know that it was pretty much the same but they added that little bit at the end, which I think wrapped the entire series up nicely. It gave the audience better closure compared to the original version which ended with Go Mi Nam and Hwang Tae Kyung making promises on the balcony. In Ikemen Desu Ne, the audience sees that they actually fulfilled those promises. I liked how IDN showed Ren’s table filled with letters, poscards and pictures from Mio from Africa because it lets the audience know how much they stayed in touch while she was away. And of course I loved the fact that they showed Mio coming back to Tokyo after a year and that Ren was there to pick her up from the airport (looking incredibly hot, if I might add XD). It was just really nice to see them together again.

Mio’s letters to Ren while she was in Africa – guarded by the pig rabbit XD

My Rating:

I enjoyed watching the show, but I did have to fast forward certain parts because I found them a bit dragging.  However this is mostly due to the fact that I’ve watched the original version and I pretty much know what was going to happen. If I didn’t watch YAB, then I probably wouldn’t have spent so much time skipping scenes.

I would give this a 4.3 out of 5. It’s not the best J-drama out there but it was definitely good, and I’d probably watch it again given the chance. (But only after I finish watching YAB again because this show made me miss the original version so much :D)

You can watch the show on Dramacrazy HERE.


2 thoughts on “J-drama Review : Ikemen Desu Ne

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